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Dr. Harleen Quinzel has a theory: mental illness is a survival mechanism. As she seeks to help the broken souls of Gotham City piece together their sanity she will become the one thing she fears the most: one of them. A bold new retelling of the tragic origin of Harley Quinn told through the eyes of the only person who knows her better than anyone: Harleen.

A young psychiatrist with a potential cure for the madness that haunts Gotham City, Dr. Harleen Quinzel must prove her revolutionary theory to a skeptical establishment by delving into the disturbed minds of Arkham Asylum's deadliest inmates. But the more time she spends with her criminally insane subjects, the closer she is drawn to one patient in particular--and the further she falls away from reality. The birth of legendary antihero Harley Quinn and the shocking origins of her twisted romance with the Joker are revealed in Harleen, a stunning new tale of love and obsession written and illustrated by renowned comics storyteller Stjepan Sejic (Aquaman: Underworld, Sunstone).

Collects: Harleen #1-3.

208 pages, Hardcover

First published February 11, 2020

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About the author

Stjepan Šejić

368 books1,296 followers
Stjepan Šejić is a Croatian comic book writer and artist, known for his work on the series Witchblade, Aphrodite IX, Sunstone, and The Darkness among others.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,599 reviews
Profile Image for Anne.
3,920 reviews69.3k followers
February 24, 2023
I'm not a huge Harley Quinn fan. I like her well enough as a character, but I usually cringe when someone who doesn't read comics tells me that she's their favorite, because they're usually just some ding-dong who wants an excuse to wear booty shorts and pigtails as a Halloween costume.
Nope, I picked this up because I saw the name Stjepan Šejić.
His art is beyond phenomenal, so it wouldn't have mattered who the hell this was about, I would have immediately grabbed it.


I knew this was going to be easy on the eyeballs, so the million-dollar question for me then became, could he write something that was worth a shit?
And the short answer is a resounding YES.


So the main problem I've always had with Harley is that she was an oversexualized idiot with zero powers, who shouldn't have been in the same room with characters like Wonder Woman, much less depicted as being able to hold her own with them. She had a mallet.
A. Mallet.
I also didn't like the way she was becoming so popular with female fans (especially younger ones) while being depicted as a psychopath in a dangerously abusive relationship.
I know that writers and producers have been actively working to fix that and I appreciate how she's now (mostly) an anti-hero who has made a clean break from Mistah J.
I'm just saying that her previous persona bothered me.
Well, if I'm being completely honest, it was also the fact that she was basically a less funny Deadpool.
Slapstick humor + big tits isn't really something that has me rolling with laughter.
Not judging. To each his own and all that...


There's also the question of how someone like Dr. Harleen Qunizel finds someone like the Joker attractive to start with. I mean, Harley is an educated, attractive woman. The Joker is an incarcerated mental patient. I'm not saying it could never happen, I just needed a decent explanation of how it could happen. And Šejić does an admirable job doing just that.
Instead of a skinny psycho with viridescent hair & mime skin who sits around cackling at his own Dad Jokes, he's portrayed as a chisel-featured manipulator with a dark sense of humor.
And Harley is an intelligent but isolated young woman who isn't quite as self-assured as she needs to be, caught in a cycle of night terrors, sleep deprivation, and alcohol. <--with a good bit of poor decision making thrown in for good measure.


It was fascinating to me when I realized that I was getting sucked in the same way Harley did. I could see all the signs (he held a gun to her head, killed people, and is now in a fucking asylum for, god's sake!), and yet...he was legitimately charming. Who doesn't want to reform the bad boy? Wait. No. Stop. This guy is seriously dangerous.
It was a weird head trip.


You end up really liking her. And you end up understanding why she likes him.
But what I really liked was that their relationship was never glorified.
As the narrator of her own story, she realizes what her mistakes were and takes the reader along for a very interesting ride. And you're never quite sure whether he loves her in his own twisted way or whether he's using her for some reason. I'm fine with that. Abusers can love their victims - doesn't make what they do less horrible.


I don't know if there's more to come, but if not, this is a fantastic self-contained origin story.
Highly Recommended.
Profile Image for Tim.
476 reviews616 followers
February 12, 2020



Holy. Shit.

Sorry, I try not to curse in much in reviews, but I really don't know how else to respond to this. Stjepan Sejic has created not only one of the best comics I've ever read set in the DC universe, but one of the best psychological takes on the characters.

This won't be a review. I can't review this. I can only gush over it.

Harleen is a retelling of Harley Quinn's origin story. It is printed under DC's Black Label line (essentially an R rated line that can use more traditional characters) and it... shows. This is not one to let the kids read. Not only is it quite violent in places, and with more than the... um... implication of the relationship between Joker and Harley, it is also a very darkly psychological piece. Many of the best storylines involving Harley Quinn are the ones that mix comedy with tragedy (after all, her name's sake, the original Harlequin can be interpreted as a tragic character in many of the stories he's featured in). She's a character who is in the definite toxic relationship in comic history, and the best stories with her point towards the tragedy that she's gotten herself into.

Harleen does this wonderfully. The story itself is amazing, the artwork superb, and every single frame tells the story from multiple layers. Some of the symbolism is obvious, but even then it is told with an ironic sense of whimsy (the moment where the images makes parallel between the Joker's lies and the story of little red riding hood was both amusing and clever). Even the page layouts... they are all perfect. I don't use that word lightly. Seriously, look at this:

While Harley is obviously the focus of this story, I would be remiss not to mention that Sejic does justice to all of Batman's Rogues Gallery that he can fit within his narrative. We get to spend a decent amount of time with them, after all, Dr. Quinzel did spend quite a bit of time with them before Joker fully got to her. If I have any complaints about the book at all, it's that I wish we could have seen them a bit more.

It goes without saying that I highly recommend this one. It stands as easily one of my all time favorite comics now. All I will add is that the physical hardcover release is also a stunner. This is a story with layers, and as my first two pictures show, the dust jacket and the physical book itself present that very idea. While the book is chuckle worthy in some sections, Sejic never forgets that the story he is presenting is a tragedy, and behind every smile, there is another deeper emotion. 5/5 stars
Profile Image for Swrp.
665 reviews
June 16, 2021
Well, this was disappointing 😞 - wonderful graphic art and illustrations - nice characterisation - beautiful display of Gotham City - Harleen starts off pretty well, but somewhere in the middle loses the track and the purpose - gets distracted and becomes more of a `show and display` - the purpose and core concept of the book, which is the transition of Dr. Harleen Quinzel into Harley Quinn, is never completely addressed.

It has all the colour, the glitter, the blood, the smiles and everything around that - but seem to be missing one thing - `the soul`.

"He smiles... And I make the worst mistake of my life..."

"I mean, even the darkest night must end..."
Profile Image for Chad.
7,729 reviews869 followers
May 26, 2020
If there's one thing Stjepan Šejić knows (Well, besides drawing absolutely gorgeous sequential art.), it's smutty romance novels. And that's what this is, a smutty romance novel gone wrong. Harleen Quinzel is an isolated and alone psychiatrist trying to make a name for herself. She goes to Arkham to investigate the criminal mind where the Joker slowly sinks his hooks into her. Joker is the ultimate misunderstood bad boy. Šejić draws him as a fit, wiry, melancholy hunk looking to be saved. This is a very slow burn. Šejić knows how to get to the emotional core of a story writing from Harleen's perspective as she slowly falls for the Joker's wiles.

By the way, this isn't Šejić's first smutty romance comic. If you liked this book, and you'd like to read something similar without DC's censors, check out Sunstone Vol. 1. It's a F/F romance, sex positive book. But at its core it's really about two people connecting to one another as they begin a new relationship and beyond.

Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,486 reviews12.8k followers
March 21, 2020
Harley was an accident - a happy accident, it turned out, but an accident nonetheless. Back in the early ‘90s in Batman: The Animated Series, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm introduced a female goon as part of Joker’s entourage who had no name. And then the fans began asking questions like “Is she the Joker’s girlfriend?” so Dini came up with a cutesy name - she was Harley Quinn, like a harlequin - and yes, she was the Joker’s girlfriend. But then people wanted to know more and so Dini came up with the best origin story he could - her original name was improbably Harleen Quinzel and she was a psychiatrist who fell for the Joker’s charms while working at Arkham Asylum. Given how it all just kinda happened, it’s a fine origin so long as you don’t think too hard about it or go into too much detail.

And then Stjepan Sejic did just that. Because, when you look into that off-the-cuff origin even a lil closely? Yeah, it looks as flimsy as it always was. Silly even.

So Harleen is a painfully long - 200+ pages - retelling of Harley Quinn’s silly origin that adds almost nothing to what’s already known while managing to say the same stuff again in a far more laborious fashion.

Here, Dr Harleen Quinzel comes up with some pseudo-scientific guf about how criminals lose their ability to feel empathy - the blurb says something about how crazy crimz adopt madness as a survival mechanism - but really it’s all pointless, dreary bullhonky to get Harley into Arkham. In Arkham, she falls for the Joker and there it is - she’s Harley Quinn!

So how does Harley fall for the Joker’s charms? Sejic shows Harley having trouble sleeping and drinking too much and bizarrely coming to see the criminals as victims of Batman. Also, apparently the Joker’s child-like rants about unfairness in society fascinate her - a highly educated woman. And THAT’S what makes her throw her life away to be Nancy to his Sid? Oh please. It’s so unconvincing. Even if we allow that somehow she tries to over-empathise with the Joker to make up for his lack of empathy, per her cockamamie theory, it doesn’t make sense. Really the only thing that makes sense to me is that she’s a (contrived single) hot chick and he’s a hot guy and their attraction is purely physical. Because everything else Sejic presents doesn’t make a lick of sense. But even then that explanation’s only good for a few tumbles - Harley would then come to and get on with her life, rather than throw it all away for a lifetime of performance artist crime!

But Sejic can draw - I mean, really, he���s a remarkable talent. I’ve been a fan ever since his issues on Rat Queens over at Image, and, even though I didn’t read them because, ugh, Dan Abnett, I picked up his Aquaman books just to stare at his gorgeous art. Whether or not we’re seeing Joker through Harley’s eyes, Sejic’s Joker is the hottest Joker I’ve ever seen - chiselled abs, big - but not too big - shoulders and arms, a rock star swagger, tousled hair, devil-may-care smile. This is Abercrombie and Fitch Joker - that’s why the whole physical attraction thing is the only explanation that makes sense to me. Plus Sejic’s Harley is just Margot Robbie, which is fine with me too, and the fantasy dream sequences looked fantastic.

This book falls under DC’s Black Label imprint, meaning it’s intended for an adult audience (ooo, edgy!), so swears aren’t censored - unless the word fuck is used in a sexual context. When Harley’s accused of fucking her college professor the word “fuck” is censored - later in the book when it’s used as a swear word or the context is violence, it’s not censored. Ah, Americans - fine with graphic violence and anger but sex? Gosh, no, time to get out the belt buckle hats! It’s just a weird detail I noticed.

It’s a shame Sejic isn’t anywhere near as good as a writer as he is an artist. Along with Harley’s dreary origin, Two Face’s origin is also included (as if this crap needed a heftier page count) and a lot of waffle over why Batman doesn’t kill - it’s the same old, same old on both counts. There’s something about a vigilante group of ex-GCPD calling themselves the Executioners. And all of it is told at a plodding place as Sejic overwrites every single page, filling them with his dull, uninspired script. Very simply: this book was hella boring - I mean, really fucking boring. This was a chore to slog through. I read his first Death Sigil book over at Image and it was awful - I didn’t even bother continuing beyond the first few pages of Sunstone as it seemed like more of the same crap. It’s a shame that he hasn’t gotten any better since those days.

Harleen’s not even a good origin - Sejic shows us Harley incongruously falling in love with the Joker but everything else is wrapped up in a page at the end. How did she end up as coconuts as he is? Why does she have the pale skin? Why does she have a mallet? Why does she call Mistah Jay “Puddin’”? It’s literally explained in a single panel at the end - “The laughing gas probably didn’t help”. That’s it?! That’s pathetic. It just underlines how Harley’s origins didn’t need to be expanded on beyond Dini’s original take - because they’re so flimsy and silly! Almost like they were written for a kid’s cartoon...

But that’s what I would recommend over this tedious read - Paul Dini and Bruce Timm’s Mad Love, which remains the best Harley and Joker book. This one takes itself way too seriously and completely fails to entertain or enlighten - Harleen is an unimpressive and cheesy romance that doesn’t add anything to the character.
Profile Image for Calista.
3,884 reviews31.2k followers
April 2, 2020
One of the best origin stories I've read. This is mostly told from inside the head of Dr. Harleen Quinzel, or Harley Quinn. This is the story of how her need to save the Joker led to her mind being shattered.


I love the artwork, rich colors with dark tones.

I would guess many people, especially women, have been with a guy that you can see their good heart and how easy it is to think with enough love and support you can help them through something to being better. I've been there. The story rings so true. It's a powerful story.

Forget Birds of Prey, this should have been the story DC told. Why can't DC get it together? Zac Synder ruined the DCEU. Anyway. This story is a sad story of a young and well-meaning smart woman and how she became splintered and broken and loving a man who can never really love her back.

It's one of the great stories DC now has in it's catalog. I hope there is more story, because I'm all in.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
February 18, 2020
I have not yet read any of Stjepan Šejić's Sunstone series, as none of the libraries in my system dared to put it on their shelves. What do I know about it? It's a F/F romance which begins with an assumption that two women can get together for a little BDSM play and just walk away (someone told me that "Sunstone" is the "safe word" they choose in their "play"). Sounds like fun, a little bit naughty? I just ordered the first volume, we'll see.

So I picked up Šejić's Harleen, which is the title of a book about Dr. Harleen Quinn, a psychologist that posits that much mental illness is a survival mechanism, who is committed to healing all of the lost souls of Gotham. I won't write a long review here because I read the first two reviews of the book here by friends Gabrielle and Tim that were wonderful, so if you want to know more you should read them and then try to resist this book. Try, go ahead!

So the skinny on this book is that this is a version of the origin story of Harley Quinn, how she went from sweet smart good girl to become Joker's lover for some time. Along the way she becomes Dr, Quinn, and in the process of her work the (gorgeous) Harleen runs into (equally gorgeous?!) Joker, whom she is determined to heal, but if you know Harley, you know that instead of healing him, he drives her to madness. But the process of getting to that madness takes us back to at least some intimations of Sunstone and the sweet yet increasingly dark relationship into which Joker draws her. Sunstone would seem to begin (a little?) darkly sexy and gets sweet; Harleen begins light and sweet and gets darker. The cover is beautifully scary, but there's a lot of romance along the way.

This is SO good and so sexy and creepy and gorgeously illustrated that you have to at least see it. Stunning hardcover production, with each panel successfully seductive--can you imagine Joker and Harley as dreamy/hot?--and we get to find in the appendices about the five year process Šejić went through to produce this book, a journey into madness where we come to appreciate how it is Harleen might have become Harley, how she might have been seduced by this attractive and smart homicidal maniac. At mid-February, this is my favorite comic of the year for sure.
Profile Image for Scott.
1,748 reviews123 followers
March 9, 2022
"I was walking to a bright future. I guess there is something to be said about walking toward light - you tend not to notice the shape of your own shadow." -- the still-respectable Doctor Harleen Quinzel, exiting the infamous Arkham Asylum while her shadow is instead depicted as 'Harley Quinn'

Although the title may be a dead (gulp!) giveaway, the notoriously psychopathic alter ego of criminal psychiatrist Harleen Quinzel does not make an appearance until the final pages of this graphic novel. And that's totally fine by me - I find that oft-slapsticky character to be an acquired taste (golly, Freud would have a field day with that phrasing . . .) and best used sparingly or in a supporting status. Still, Harleen works because it is an R-rated take on a gloomy corner of DC's fictional universe. Graphic violence, sexual situations, profanity, and other adult themes pump through this tragedy-laced origin story so that it seems somewhat . . . Realistic? Plausible? I'm not sure I can figure the correct word for it. It just felt like all the pain, despair, and psychological trauma inflicted on the title character was played fairly straight and explained how she was on the fast track to experience that break in her sanity. This dark but invigorating storyline was complemented by the consistently good illustrations.
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
996 reviews1,134 followers
February 16, 2020
Happy Valentines Day, Puddin'!

"The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. On that road I saw a pale man... and he smiled at me."

Thanks to Todd Philips’ “Joker”, my obsession with my beloved Mr. J has gotten seriously out of control in late 2019. I even started watching “Gotham” and fell head over heels for the Valeska twins (because two Jokers are better than one… and I love me a ginger with a wicked grin!). So, needless to say, I was waiting for my copy of “Harleen” to be delivered with bathed breath. And let me tell you, this book does for Harley what Todd Philips did for Joker: it makes her human.

Heavily inspired by the classic “Mad Love” origin story, Stjepan Šejic took the character of Harley Quinn (or rather, Dr. Harleen Quinzel) and re-imagined her slow descent into madness and criminality as seen through her own eyes. So in some ways, it is the old familiar story, but in other ways, it’s a brand new one. Šejic’s artwork is incredibly gorgeous and crisp - and it’s about time someone drew up a sexy Joker for the freaks like me who are out there! In their novelization (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), Paul Dini and Pat Cadigan tried to flesh out Harley’s background to help the reader understand how an otherwise smart girl could have succumbed to the emotional manipulation the Joker inflicted on her – and they succeeded, but only up to a point. Šejic takes things a little further in “Harleen”; he makes it all several shades darker, a lot less cartoonish, and it’s perfect - in a heartbreaking sort of way.

Dr. Quinzel’s approach to mental illness is unusual: she believes criminally insane people develop such behaviors as survival mechanisms – to the amusement of her colleagues and the medical community in general. There isn’t much room for compassion in psychiatry, apparently, but despite the establishment’s skepticism, she is given a grant from Wayne Enterprises and is permitted to study some of the “patients” incarcerated at Arkham Asylum. And sooner or later, that means speaking to the Joker, the notorious criminal who she had a traumatic experience with in the past. As he puts it himself, the Joker may be crazy, but he's not stupid, so when an emotionally isolated woman who genuinely wants to help him steps into his cross-hair, he "allows" her to help - though not quite the way she thought she'd be helping.

Besides the classic tale of "girl falls for the wrong guy and can't get away", there's a lot of interesting elements in this comic, mainly the idea of people's dark side, staying just out of sight under a respectable face and demeanor. This is not new territory when it comes to Joker stories either; the famous "Killing Joke" (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...) is all about that idea that it only takes one bad day to push a normal person into absolute lunacy, not to mention the idea that Batman isn't exactly sane either, but I enjoyed the way Šejic approached it.

Very importantly, the abusive nature of the relationship between Harley and the Joker is never glamorized in "Harleen": if anything, its always very unsettling, as Harley is pushed into a desperate place where the only hand extended towards her belongs to someone who almost killed her… You see both the horror and the tragic inevitability of her fall. I joke a lot about having the hots for Jeremiah Valeska (and I do; I need help!), but making abusive dynamics like the Joker and Harley’s look romantic is a really, really bad idea – so I appreciate that Šejic made his Harley both aware of how wrong her situation is, while also showing that she feels powerless to escape it.

This is my kind of graphic novel (and possibly the best Batman universe graphic novel I've ever read): nuanced, gritty, gorgeously illustrated, with a fun and challenging story about a flawed but very human character. Every fan of Harley and the Joker needs this on their shelf. All the stars and then some! More like this, please, Mr. Šejic!

Also, the dust jacket makes the hardcover omnibus edition worth every penny: (https://www.instagram.com/p/B8dtloqgpcK/)
Profile Image for Trish.
1,947 reviews3,404 followers
February 26, 2020
I'm not much of a fan of superheroes and supervillains to be honest. Yeah, I watched a few Batman and Superman movies as well as the entire Marvel run thus far but after a certain point, enough is enough for me. Especially since there are sooo many different origin stories out there and I prefer one per character.

Anyway, this is another origin story, namely that of Harley Quinn aka Harlequin. She started out as a doctor, a therapist who wanted to help Gotham's worst criminals.

She ended up being the Joker's girlfriend (of sorts). This is her own account of how she transitioned from one to the other.

So yes, in a twisted way, this is a love story:

In between, we get a very interesting look at both sides of the spectrum: the one saying that criminals of a certain caliber can't change / can't be rehabilitated and the one making a case for not locking them away forever but letting them back into a normal life even.

Personally, I know which side of the coin my opinion falls but that is neither here nor there.

Apart from the aforementioned love story, we also get to see some of Gotham's most notorious criminals and even the origin story of Two-Face:

It's sexy and tragic and also profound. Mostly though? Look at that art! Yes, it was the reason I decided to read this after all despite all my reservations (that and the fact that it's a short comicbook). The colours, the details, the style ... it's all utterly gorgeous and that alone makes it worth reading this.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,975 followers
February 27, 2020
Such gorgeous art! I mean, seriously, I never would have expected something of this quality out of a Batman (sorry, Harley and Joker) comic. But it’s true. Not only the artwork is gorgeous, but it is easily the MOST gorgeous aspect of this graphic novel.

The story is quite solid as well. Very solid. It happens to be a very realistic, psychologically sound, origin story of Harley. A quasi-love story.

Well, actually, it IS rather romantic. It only ENDS in a murder. The rest of it is rather sweet and manipulative and it shows both of our protagonists in a very interesting light.

I totally recommend it.

But did anyone else see that Precinct was misspelled on the building?

Ah, well, even the Mona Lisa has flaws.

Profile Image for Paul.
2,308 reviews20 followers
November 13, 2020
Well, let me start by saying I wasn't as completely blown away by the artwork on this one as most other people seem to be. Don't get me wrong; it's good... it's very good, in fact. My main problem with it is that, while the painted colours are truly excellent, as are the page composition, visual storytelling and tone, the linework is more than a little rough around the edges. A more confident line would elevate this artwork to the level that most people seem to think it has already achieved. As a freelance artist myself, I probably look a bit deeper than most, though, which is only to be expected.

As for the story, well, it was pretty good. Despite Šejić not working from a traditional plot/script, it comes together as well as if he had done things the old fashioned way, which is impressive in itself. The book offers an more in-depth, alternate 'Elseworlds' origin story for Harley that was a very satisfying and entertaining read.

A solid 4 stars across the board.
Profile Image for L. McCoy.
742 reviews1 follower
January 27, 2020
Holy fuck! Yep, I actually ended up giving a Harley Quinn series a 5-star rating!

What’s it about?
Dr. Harleen Quinnzel has issues. The scientific community looks down on her, she has low self esteem and even PTSD after nearly being killed by Joker. She thinks things are getting better when she gets funding for some potentially ground breaking mental health research... but to do it she has to deal with her new patients at Arkham and that only makes things worse as she descends into madness.

Why it gets 5 stars:
This story is interesting. It’s Harley Quinn’s origin story done in a gritty way that goes inside the character’s mind with a few interesting changes too. It’s the kinda dark story the character deserves.
The artwork is perfect! I know I just raved about how great Sejic’s art is a few weeks ago in my review for Sunstone Book One but...
It is so damn good! It suits the tone perfectly and looks absolutely wonderful.
The characters are great. I was pleasantly surprised to see that many of our favorite Gotham characters are here (not just Harley and Joker) and the way they’re done here is different yet still true to the characters and I love that.
This book is very intense throughout.
There are a few moments in this book that are darkly humorous.
The storytelling here is perfect. It makes the way readers see how the main character thinks work even better.
I surprisingly sorta enjoyed the (arguable) romance element. While obviously not a healthy or even truly loving relationship it is an interesting part of the story that is done well here.
There’s a slight horror element to this and it’s fantastic!
The ending is great!

Mixed thoughts:
The predictability. Some of it is different, some of it is the same. It’s like

Okay, I’m glad I didn’t give up on Black Label!
Stjepan Sejic is to Harley Quinn who Todd Phillips is to Joker. Anyone who follows me knows that I mean that 100% as a compliment. This is a great psychological tale that puts readers in the mind of the character. It’s so different yet familiar at the same time. With a fantastic story, amazing artwork, a very intense tone with unique versions of our favorite Gotham City characters and more I gotta say I loved this! Between this and Sunstone you can 100% consider me a fan of Stjepan Sejic!
Highly recommended!

Profile Image for Dennis.
659 reviews269 followers
November 15, 2020
Holy Mac 'n' Cheese balls! That was amazing.

Okay, this is another origin story. I seem to be reading a lot of these. But with those superhero/supervillain comics you never quite know where to start, right? So why not start at the beginning?! Actually, this was the first time I’ve been reading Harley Quinn’s origin story. It still seemed somewhat familiar. But it doesn’t really matter, as it’s been told so well here.


So, Dr. Harleen Quinzel has this hypothesis about what’s dampening people’s ability to process empathy. Naturally, she would like to do some research. And what better place to do this than Arkham Asylum, right?


Well …


Her main subject is The Joker, and we all know how well that is about to go. But the question always was, I suppose, what makes an educated person like Harleen, a psychiatrist no less, fall for the Joker. And this comic illustrates her inner struggle, the battle she is fighting with herself, very well. She is lonely and isolated, because of a certain experience in her past. And the Joker is very charming. She knows she is endangering her career, and perhaps her life. But she’s slowly losing the battle. And sleep deprivation and alcohol are doing the rest.



And what about the Joker? Is he manipulating her, or is he indeed falling for her too? You never quite know. It’s complicated.


Readers also get an all-star cast here. But even Bats is just a minor character. Harvey Dent however, well, we get his origin story too. And as a supporting character he works perfectly in this particular story, as it all ties in very well with the whole what makes good people snap and is there a way back theme.

But really, this is about Harleen and The Joker.

So, is this a love story? Maybe it is. Since when have love and reason gone hand in hand anyway?


Amazing artwork, by the way. You might have noticed. I would like to see more of this. It works perfectly fine as a self-contained story. But if Šejić and DC decided to continue this run, I'd be on board.

Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,661 reviews5,141 followers
November 15, 2021
My story's the one where the girl dances with the devil, and he takes her with him on a long road to hell.

I grew up on Batman — the films and the animated show — and Harley was one of my first favorite fictional characters ever, but somewhere along the way, I lost a little of my grip on what made me adore Gotham and its monsters so strongly. This graphic novel reminded me why I loved Harley so much to begin with. This was the most beautiful, perfect origin story I could've asked for. Wow. It also features some of my favorite artwork I have ever seen in a graphic novel. I want these pages framed on my wall immediately.

Harley and the Joker have such a messed-up, intricate relationship, and this story captures that in the best way, but this isn't a Joker story; it's Harley's. It begins by showing us this brilliant, ambitious young doctor who wanted so desperately to help people that she risked it all to try to save Gotham's worst of the worst, and leads us through her gradual descent into hell and madness, before leaving us in the midst of utter chaos and destruction, wondering what the truth is. Does the Joker love Harley, or he is only using her? My feelings on the matter have always been rather... convoluted, to say the least, but I'll leave it up to you to read this beauty and determine that for yourself.

Thinking about it, it all feels sort of cosmic... the two of us, like two interstellar objects gravitating toward each other on a collision course... Oh, there would be chaos and destruction... but my, what a sight it would make.
Profile Image for Manisha.
514 reviews87 followers
March 16, 2020
“Then again, in Gotham City, crazy certainly seems to be contagious.”

This was an amazing take on Harleen Quinzel’s descent into madness. The story didn’t shy away from psychological discussions, having a nuanced view that was focusing on morality, change, mental instability and manipulation. What I loved most about this story was how believable everyone’s behaviour was. From the villains, to the psychiatrist, to the cops, we follow the story of characters who have had enough, and they all react differently as a result.

(Eh. This just proves it. The Joker wasn’t wrong.)

And let’s not forget the artwork. Wow! Gorgeous! It was absolutely, positively stunning. The artwork was definitely one of the best I've seen recently.

Profile Image for Ashley.
800 reviews442 followers
November 15, 2021
Star Rating: —> 5 [ BRILLIANT ] STARS !

Oh My God! This was the Harley Quinn story I always (never knew that I) needed! The story was SO well written... i am so beyond excited right now. The way Šejić approached Harley’s origin story was so brilliant... it had me absolutely captivated, holding my breath, waiting for what was to come next with giddiness, excitement, and even anxiety, from page one... and I’ve already read this story hundreds upon hundreds of times! But THIS? The way it was written just stands out from anything i’ve read before.

If you are a Harley Quinn lover... YOU HAVE TO PICK THIS UP. It’s not even up for debate !

The ART! My God it was EXCEPTIONAL! The whole thing was honestly exceptional. I went into this expecting greatness from reading friends’ reviews... but it is another thing to see it with your own eyes.

It truly is a thing of rare beauty. PHEW! Šejić has talent that really hit me over the head with a baseball bat! I can’t even... words... what...? I am too excited and in awe at the moment and my brain is all fuzzy from such (or maybe it was the baseball bat? Who can tell?)
Profile Image for Robert.
1,492 reviews102 followers
October 28, 2020
When the art is this gorgeous do you really needs words?

Fortunately, the words are pretty decent as well, telling the story of how promising psychiatrist Dr. Harleen Quinzel comes to the romantically charged breaking point that turned her into the villainous Harley Quinn.

I'm really glad I had the chance to read this in this massive hardcover format, definitely a title that deserves the Deluxe DC Black Label treatment.

Profile Image for Alexis.
510 reviews569 followers
April 10, 2020
I screamed when I got this in the mail.

The plot. Really? I feel like this goes without saying but it's Harley Quinn's origin story. Either you know it or you don't. If you don't, you need to stop reading this review and just read this book instead. If you do, then hi, *waves at screen like an insane... Harley*

The characters. First introduced back in 1992 as the Joker's girlfriend, Dr. Harleen Quinzel, fast became a fan favorite and soon got her own comic book. This year even saw the release of her own movie; Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). If you haven't seen it yet, what have you been doing with your life?

The writing. Already a big fan of Stjepan Šejić's writing from the Sunstone Series, I was super excited to see what he would bring to this story and I wasn't disappointed. From the heartbreaking moments to the chuckle worthy ones, he found the right tone to tell the tale of this remarkable woman.

The special. I had completely forgotten how much I liked this character. I was 7 years old back in '92 when she was introduced but through the years Harley has remained one of the characters whose unique and insane sense of humor I've come to simply love. Although none of them are in the same category she's right up there with inappropriate childhood favorites like Animaniacs and Freakazoid! for me.

The verdict. Die hard Harley Quinn fans should not miss out on this incredibly gorgeous DC Black Label release by one of my favorite artists. Just look at it ↓. Excuse the shaking cam I was laughing while fangirling.


The personal. I remember watching Birds of Prey earlier this year with some friends and being blown away by the soundtrack (and movie). I actually said that Charlotte Lawrence's song "Joke's On You" would be the perfect breakup song for someone in a toxic relationship. Meanwhile future me was going "Bitch you have no idea how right you are!"
Profile Image for Rod Brown.
5,300 reviews173 followers
April 7, 2020
A Harley Quinn story that is sexy, seductive, and so, so good. It's a pretty straightforward recounting of her origin story, telling it in greater detail but seeming to stay pretty true to the roots (though it has been a long time since I read The Batman Adventures: Mad Love and I've pretty much skipped all her DCU appearances since).

I like Stjepan Šejić's art a lot, and recommend Sunstone: Book One to anyone who wants to see him go even further into erotica than this Black Label title allows.
Profile Image for Amin Matin.
293 reviews47 followers
March 6, 2022
هارلی کویین همیشه برای من از جذاب‌ترین شخصیت‌های دی‌سی بوده، مخصوصاً چگونگی تبدیل اون از روانشناسی حرفه‌ای به مجنونی روانی...

در پی همین علاقه و اینکه احتمالاً همه‌ی شما طرفداران کمیک و خصوصاً بتمن سریال بتمن The Animated رو دیدید و اینجا بود که اکثر ما با شخصیت هارلی آشنا شدیم ولی تقریباً کمیکی که به ریشه‌ی شخصیت هارلی کویین بپردازه نداشتیم تا اینکه آقای استفان سیج ( امیدوارم گند نزده باشم توی تلفظ نام بنده خدا) که اکثر طرفداران کمیک اونو با کمیک مستقلی به نام Sunstone می‌شناسند دست به کار شد و یکی از بهترین کمیک‌های هارلی کویین رو نوشت.
خلاصه داستان: دکتر هارلین کوینزل یک ایده کمال گرایانه داره، اون میگه بیماری روانی یک راه نجات داره. اون میخواد به روح‌های شکسته و ازهم‌گسیخته گاتهام کمک کنه(اکثراً هم جنایتکاران دوست‌داشتنی‌مون هستند) ولی خودش در این راه خیرخواهانه تبدیل به یک بیمار روانی میشه. اگه دوست دارید ریشه شخصیت هارلی کویین رو بدونید، بهترین انتخاب شما همین کمیک سه‌شماره‌ای کوتاهه.

راجع به آرت کمیک هم که باید بگم بسیار تمیز و محشر بود، هیچ ایرادی نمیشه به این آرت گرفت، مطمئنم شما هم لذت خواهید برد.

یک نکته دیگه هم اضافه کنم که لطفاً یکی پیدا بشه از این داستان اقتباسی بسازه، چه حالا انیمیشن چه فیلم، هر چی و یا اگه از این کمیک اقتباسی شده و من نمی‌دونم حتماً دوستان بهم بگند.

ممنون که خوندید.
Profile Image for Lashaan Balasingam.
1,361 reviews4,621 followers
March 17, 2020

You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.

Love is madness. Untamable, unexpected, uninvited. It whirls into your life and sweeps you off your feet. Blinded by it, driven by it, excused by it, nothing is ever the same. For one Dr. Harleen Quinzel, Love struck her with a mallet and left her with a vision of life that shackled her to a life of criminality. And that with none other than the Joker, a wild and unpredictable psychopath who happens to think thousands of steps ahead of the most reasonable individuals. But how did the young and stunning Ms. Quinzel get caught off guard as she slowly but surely became the insane Harley Quinn? Written and illustrated by renowned comics storyteller Stjepan Šejić comes a tale to remember exposed through the point of view of one Harley Quinn as she reflects on her transformation following her encounter with the legendary Joker.

What is Harleen about? The story follows the young and ambitious Dr. Harleen Quinzel in her exposition of a theory that could revolutionize the chaotic ecosystem of Gotham City: mental illness as a survival mechanism. Unfortunately for her, the establishments of mental health and justice are skeptical of her ideas. Struggling to grasp onto any hope for her theory to take form, she’s finally given an opportunity to prove her case. With the chance to get a hands-on sample of criminally insane criminals right in the heart of Arkham Asylum, she believes that there’s still hope for her to find answers to all the questions. What she doesn’t see coming is that her time in this hell hole will pull her further away from reality and sanity. Collecting the 3-issue limited series, the latest graphic novel within DC’s Black Label imprint is an unequivocally exquisite and thought-provoking tale of obsession, madness, and hope.

Creator Stjepan Šejić achieves an astounding feat in delivering this wicked psychological tale in such a sharp and confident fashion. His depiction of Dr. Harleen Quinzel is perfectly flawed, evenly conceived, and beautifully layered as she progresses through her experiment in Arkham Asylum. The characterization is beyond the predictable as he constructs her personality and establishes an agency around her that allows her to feel independent and genuine within the shifting social and political events evolving around her. Stjepan Šejić’s meticulous and conscientious story-telling abilities also bring him to delicately illustrate the complex and controversial relationship developed between Dr. Harleen Quinzel and the Joker. It isn’t an obvious and blatant depiction of an abusive relationship anymore. It’s a far more intricate bond where both of their personalities symbiotically merge and form an unbreakable and corrupted understanding of each other. Think of a disturbing blend of a messiah complex coming from Ms. Quinzel and a manipulative and psychopathic penchant oozing from the Joker. Quite insane, right?

The narrative doesn’t, however, strictly focus on Dr. Harleen Quinzel and the Joker as it also analogeously explore other characters, notably including a retelling of Harvey Dent’s origin. Irrefutably multilevel, the narrative is brilliantly thought-out and attests to Stjepan Šejić’s story-telling talents. With incredible artwork that will have your jaw dragging on the ground in amazement, he also depicts an intelligent and figurative facet of the Stockholm syndrome through the relationship between the Clown Prince of Gotham and the Cupid of Crime. Although the former is the one behind bars, he cunningly encages Dr. Harleen Quinzel in a mental prison of his own, as he maneuvers her feelings to his whim and collaterally obtains what he has always sought. Stjepan Šejić’s artwork also thoroughly translates these powerplays and captures the raw emotions with unprecedented precision through intimate visual designs, surreal and introspective elements drawn from thoughts and dreams, as well as vivid colouring accentuating the story’s qualities. It would simply be an understatement to not call this a chef d’oeuvre.

Harleen is a refreshingly terrifying origin story—bound to be baptized a masterpiece—for the Joker’s intimate partner in crime with the descent into insanity at the heart of this tale.

Yours truly,

Lashaan | Blogger and Book Reviewer
Official blog: https://bookidote.com/

A masterpiece! A chef-d'oeuvre!

Full review to come.

Yours truly,

Lashaan | Blogger and Book Reviewer
Official blog: https://bookidote.com/
Profile Image for Stay Fetters.
2,062 reviews131 followers
February 15, 2020
"My story’s the one where the girl dances with the devil, and he takes her with him on a long road to hell."

Harley Quinn was always the character that interested me the most. She’s smart and knew exactly what she wanted but she was also this psychotic badass who didn’t let anything stop her. Let’s not forget about her two lovely side pieces.

Harleen delves deeper into the life of Dr. Quinzel and how she became a Doctor at one of the most intense Asylums in Gotham. She had major plans to see what made those patients tick and how to save them from destroying themselves. That is until she meets the Joker and he changes her life.

This graphic novel was amazing. The storyline was well pieced together with no gaps of tedious drivel. It held my interest all the way through. The art was spectacular. I was blown away by the beauty of it.

Everything about this was astonishing and this is the best graphic novel I’ve read about Harley Quinn.
Profile Image for Sud666.
1,944 reviews158 followers
September 8, 2021
Stjepan Šejić has created a masterful comic. I truly mean that. I am not the biggest Harley Quinn fan, but I do appreciate the character. I've been seeing this GN all over GR. When I saw it at my comic store, I picked it up and realized that Stjepan Šejić had both written and illustrated this volume, my appreciation grew and I figured "Why not?". Let me just say that I am glad I did so. What a great GN! Great art, great story and thought provoking prose and concepts of justice. Well done Stjepan Šejić! This is quality work.

This is the story of how Dr. Harley Quinzel meets and falls under the spell of the Joker. Starting with her as a student and then following her troubled career, Dr. Quinzel is offered a Wayne Foundation grant to do research into the criminally insane.
But, Dr. Quinzel has already had "an encounter" with the Joker. That fateful night will carry over into her work and the brilliantly manipulative Joker sets to work on getting into her brain. So we see the gradual process of Dr. Quinn becoming the character Harlequin. It is superbly written and exceedingly well done. I loved the artwork as well. If I have one quibble, it is a minor one, this Joker is a wee bit TOO good-looking. It's almost off-putting, but fear not in his speech and "style" he is 100% Joker.

This will be a welcome addition to my collection. Credits to anyone who can write and illustrate such a quality GN. Any Batman/Joker fan should consider this a "must-have". A comic of this quality ought to be bought in Hardcover, trust me it is quite a handsome volume and comes with some fascinating information, at the end, about the creative process behind this GN. HIGHLY recommended.
Profile Image for Read with Sandee ・❥・.
645 reviews1,298 followers
August 29, 2020
full review now up on blog: http://fictionallysandee.com/qa-revie...

5 perfectly deranged stars.

This was perfect.

I don't think there was anything about it I can complain about. It humanized Harley Quinn and the Joker quite a bit and I liked that very much. Whether the Joker was somewhat being authentic was another topic entirely because you still see his narcissistic tendencies, yet somehow, I also saw a side of him I don't think I've seen before. I think villains are more compelling once you get an idea on what made them into who they are.

It also touched on the thought that anyone can slip into madness, no matter how good of a person you are, one significant event could flip that switch that could forever change ones mental state. Could anyone really blame these people who were unwillingly changed by the events that happened in their lives? Could we really do that?


I'll try to write a more coherent review of this since there are really a lot more things to talk about. It was so refreshing to read about the Joker and Batman through someone else's eyes. No scratch that, not just anybody. I think everyone knows Harley Quinn by now, but how she came to be, what really pushed her over the edge, now that was a good story to tell. This did just that perfectly.
Profile Image for ♛ Garima ♛.
894 reviews178 followers
September 7, 2020
I think this is the first time I have spent my hard-earned money on 'Hardcover' comic book, not that I am regretting...but I am realising it could quite addictive.

My knowledge of (Dr.) Harley Quinzel wasn't much, I knew of her just by watching Suicide squad. The trope is quite simple and frankly overdone so many times. A goody-two-shoes girl falls in love with the bad boy, wanting to 'save' him not knowing some 'things' cannot be saved. I think the wish is quite simple, save the boy and have your happily ever after, like any other fairytales, but like always it is easier said than done.

The artwork is amazing, so is the storytelling. Dialogues are bit wordy sometimes and too much to be fit into the speech bubble but if you are okay to read smaller fonts because artwork does make up for it, it is a very impressive book.

One disappointment though, I thought we are going to see a transformation from Dr. Harley Quinzel to Harleen, because I thought Joker actually 'changes' her, like him but I was disappointed to see that part was not included.

I can go on and on about artwork and sizzling chemistry but I think I need to stop. Young viewers don't look...
I would definitely recommend, mature readers only 😉
Profile Image for Beth The Vampire.
313 reviews22 followers
October 4, 2019
Recently, I have been interested in the psychology of the villain.

With the release of the movie Joker, this topic has come to the forefront. Now, this character is a murderous psychopath, his motivations are often unknown, and he has so many backstories it’s hard to know which one may be real, if any. But the movie doesn’t ask you to empathise with the Joker, but simply to understand him and watch his story unfold. What could create such a ‘monster?’ Is it trauma, society, or something deeper? Something scarier; something inside us all.

The same questions, to a lesser extent, were raised around Marvel’s supervillain, Thanos. Some people (and there is a thread on Reddit regarding this very topic) believed that he may have had the right idea to eliminate half of the population of the universe. He spoke of balance, and this would be indiscriminate, those left behind would survive and have the means to. Even Captain America noticed the whales in the seas and the cleaner water since ‘the snap,’ although he could never really believe it was the right thing to do. But why do some of us associate more with Thanos?

Why do some people have Joker tattoos, and that’s seen as cool, when a Charles Manson tattoo is seen as grotesque? Is it the Joker’s style? His character? Does it have less impact because he is fictional?

This bring us to Harleen Frances Quinzell. She was created originally (over 25 years ago) as a villain; the Joker’s girlfriend and sidekick. She has stolen, terrorised, murdered. Some would say she was under the Joker’s control, trapped inside a physically and emotionally violent relationship. Others would suggest she made her own choices. After her popularity soared, she was turned into more of an anti-hero. She fought beside Batman, even helped take down the Joker. She fights for the rights of animals, helps children and the downtrodden, and she is kind to her friends.

Full disclaimer: I adore Harley. I have all the merch. And when I say all the merch, I mean ALL the merch. I have a portrait of Harley Quinn tattooed across half of my back. I’m counting down the days until Birds of Prey and hope to hell it’s better than Suicide Squad. Although the sequel to SS is shaping up to be wayyyyyy better (thank you James Gunn).

This leads me (finally) to a review of Harleen, Book One of Three, which is essentially a re-telling of her origin story. And I loved it. The reader is granted a look into the psychology of the one-time criminal psychologist, knowing how she turns out, and being allowed to deep dive into how it all happened. The art is fantastic, some of the images, such as Harley walking into Arkham Asylum for the first time and her shadow a glimpse into her villainous future, are absolute perfection. The whole tone of the graphic novel’s colour sets the scene for what’s to come. The crimson voiceover from Harley of the future looks back on her past, and questions whether everything that happened was fate or choice.

It is Harley’s story through her eyes; how she sees the Joker, the impact he has on her every waking and sleeping moment, how scared she is of him. Harley says herself it is a tale akin to Beauty and the Beast, but the girl is supposed to be able to change the beast, and the beast is supposed to love the girl. This is a much darker tale, and there is a lot further we have to fall down the rabbit hole.

The psychology of the villain; it’s an interesting perspective. And one that is looking to give an extended life to an already compelling character who may or may not be okay to adore as much as I do. But I’ll do it anyway.
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